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How to Have a Healthy First Trimester.
A typical pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks and is broken down into trimesters.
The first trimester is considered the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy.
During this time, your body is adjusting to the new life inside of it, and it is essential to take all the necessary precautions to ensure you and your baby are as healthy as possible.
Visiting the Doctor
Find a good health care provider.
If you don’t already have an OB/GYN doctor or midwife that you feel comfortable with, start doing some research or ask friends and family for referrals.
Good prenatal care is extremely important throughout your pregnancy, and you want to choose a doctor or a midwife that you feel comfortable with.
Schedule a prenatal appointment.
It is important to schedule an appointment soon after you discover you are pregnant.
Studies show that women who do not receive good prenatal care are at a higher risk for having low birth-weight babies and babies with poor health than women who regularly see a physician during pregnancy.
Know what to expect at your prenatal appointment.
In addition to confirming that you are pregnant, the first prenatal visit includes a variety of tests and examinations to assess your health, as well as the health of the fetus.
It also helps establish the relationship between you and your health care provider.
A typical first prenatal visit includes:
Questions about your current and past medical history, including medications you take, smoking history, current health and previous illnesses, procedures, pregnancies, and family history, including any genetic conditions that run in your family.
Dating your last period to determine a due date.
A physical examination, including a pelvic examination and a Pap test.
Testing for sexually transmitted infections.
Taking your weight and measurements.
Blood pressure measurement.
Urine testing for proteins and sugar levels.
Ultrasound to hear the baby’s heartbeat, which oftentimes is not heard until at least 6 or 7 weeks.
Schedule upcoming prenatal visits with your doctor.
Even if your first prenatal visit went great, it is still important to continue seeing your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy.
Prenatal care typically consists of a visit with your doctor once a month for the first six months, twice per month during the 7th and 8th months, and then every week after that until you deliver.
Talk with your doctor about prenatal testing.
Towards the end of the first trimester, your doctor may talk to you about prenatal testing to further assess the health of the fetus.
You can decide which tests you want to have done, but they will help determine things like genetic disorders, birth defects, or the potential for other disorders.
These tests are encouraged so that you can make the best health care decisions before and after your child is born.
Starting Healthy Habits for Pregnancy
Discontinue habits that are harmful for the fetus.
The most important step for a healthy first trimester, and a healthy pregnancy in general, is changing lifestyle habits that are dangerous and damaging to the fetus.
While there are many foods and behaviors that are discouraged during pregnancy, the most important to discontinue immediately are:
Drinking all forms of alcohol, which can cause birth defects, miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight.
Smoking tobacco products, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight.
Using even small amounts of street drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines can cause serious defects or be fatal to the baby.
The effects of marijuana on a fetus are currently not fully understood, but it is recommended that you also discontinue use.
Limit caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day.
It is important to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day to keep your body well hydrated.
Pregnant women experience an increase in blood volume as the body prepares to support the mother and the fetus, and good hydration is needed for this.
Drinking plenty of water will also help alleviate symptoms of fatigue, constipation, and preterm labor.
Begin or maintain a healthy diet.
It is important to follow a healthy diet throughout the entirety of your pregnancy because getting enough calories from healthy sources is important to keep you and the fetus healthy.
Some healthy eating tips to ensure you get enough key nutrients during the first trimester include:
Eat smaller nutritious meals more frequently instead of the typical “three meals a day” approach to keep your blood glucose stable and help keep your energy up.
Limit or completely avoid foods that are high in calories from sugar or fat.
Increase your fiber, folic acid, and iron intake by eating whole grains and fortified products.
Eat lean sources of protein like poultry and fish.
Eat foods that are high in calcium and iron, such as green, leafy vegetables.
Choose fresh fruits high in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, like citrus fruits and bananas.
Know how much weight you should be gaining.
You may experience cravings in the first trimester, but just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you should eat whatever you want whenever you want to!
Monitoring your calorie intake is especially important because recent studies have shown that overweight mothers can negatively impact the health of a child throughout his or her life.
While specifics may vary per person, general weight guidelines are:
You should only be eating about 300 extra calories per day, and these should come from healthy sources.
Normal weight gain for a healthy woman is about 25 to 35 pounds total during the pregnancy.
Overweight women should only gain about 10 to 20 pounds total during the pregnancy.
Underweight women or women who are pregnant with multiples should only gain 35 to 45 pounds during the pregnancy.
Boost your nutrition with supplements.
Even if you are eating healthily and getting good nutrition, it is important to guarantee you are getting enough pregnancy-specific nutrients.
Taking a prenatal multivitamin with at least 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams of folic acid is recommended to help prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
Get regular exercise.
It is important to talk to your doctor about your exercise plans, but typically it is encouraged for women to continue a previous exercise program or to begin a moderate exercise program during pregnancy.
Regular low-impact exercises like walking or swimming are usually encouraged.
Some additional guidelines include:
Avoid exercising in hot weather and avoid overheating in general.
Be sure to drink water before, during, and after exercising.
Be sure to do stretches and warm-up exercises to increase your breathing and heart rate slowly.
Do the same at the end of your workout.
Only exercise at a moderate level (you should be able to comfortably talk during your workout) and stop if you feel tired.
Managing First Trimester Symptoms
Deal with your fatigue.
Most women feel extremely fatigued during their first trimester, and this is completely normal.
This fatigue can even happen before you are showing or carrying any baby weight.
Your body is going through a lot of physical and hormonal changes, and it takes a lot of energy to keep up.
To help you deal with first trimester exhaustion, try some of these tips:
Adjust your sleep schedule, and be strict about your bedtime.
If your body is telling you to go to bed earlier than usual, listen to it.
Cut out unnecessary commitments, and have people help you with housework.
Take 15-minute power naps when you can.
If you work full time, close your office door and put your head down for a little bit.
If you are a homemaker, ask someone to watch the kids for an hour a few times a week.
Keep hydrated throughout the day and cut back on water intake a few hours before bedtime to help reduce nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Avoid heavy meals or spicy food in the evening to reduce heartburn and indigestion keeping you up at night.
Also, avoid drinking too many fluids in the evening, so you are not getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Cope with morning sickness.
Feeling nauseous during your first trimester is called “morning sickness,” but these symptoms can actually last all day.
About 75% of women experience pregnancy-related nausea during the first trimester in varying degrees of severity.
Morning sickness usually disappears by the end of the first trimester, but until then try some of these remedies:
Try eating small meals throughout the day that consist of bland foods, preferably carbohydrates, such as dry toast or saltine crackers.
You always want to avoid being too full or too hungry.
Avoid rich, spicy, or fatty foods, and any foods whose smells bother you.
Try using acupressure wristbands to see if they help you.
Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin B6 supplement combined with a 1/2 tablet of Unisom at night, which some studies find can help with nausea.
Ginger also helps reduce nausea.
You can take ginger as a tea, candy, or even as a supplement.
Manage your stress levels.
It is normal to worry about what you’re eating, the health of the baby, how your life is changing, and a million other things while you’re pregnant.
However, if you feel like your stress and anxiety is consuming you or interfering with your daily life, it is very important that you take action to deal with it.
A high-level of stress during pregnancy can increase the odds of preterm labor or a low birth-weight baby.
To help manage your stress levels at work and at home, try some of the following stress relievers:
Make slowing down a priority, and start asking your friends, your family, and your partner to help you more.
Stop trying to do everything yourself and start saying “no” to unnecessary activities.
Practice relaxation techniques like deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or stretching.
If you’re feeling especially stressed about a certain aspect of pregnancy or delivery, try enrolling in a class or joining a support group on the topic.
Learning more about it and hearing from other moms will help ease your anxiety.